What is beecentric/apicentric beekeeping?
The terms beecentric and apicentric mean putting honeybees (Apis mellifera) first. Apicentric beekeeping is an approach to beekeeping that first and foremost focusses on the needs and natural behaviour of bees. The ultimate goal is that happy, healthy bees are the most productive bees. Here’s a post I put together on the various aspect of the Beecentric Hive called “What Is The Beecentric Hive?”
Beecentic hive design and management techniques should work bees and enable them to express their natural behaviours.
What are some examples of beecentic beekeeping practices?
- Over-wintering honeybees on their one honey.
- Using natural foundation and cell size.
- Allowing bees to control the ventilation in their hive
- Using locally adapted genetics.
- Using beehives that are easy to manage and inline with honeybee behaviour.
- Managing the hive in a way that maintains a natural hive structure.
How does the Beecentric Hive “work with bees”?
The Beecentric Hive is modelled after the honeybee’s preferred habitat; a hollow tree trunk. Initially inspired by the Warre hive, the Beecentric Hive uses 8-frames medium boxes. The number of frames in a box is significant as the width of the hive should not exceed the width of the over-wintering cluster of bees. Honeybees can more easily heat a narrower hive than a wider one, and narrower hives prevent Winter starvation by stacking the honey-storage directly above the overwintering cluster of bees.
By using medium boxes, the Beecentric Hive is easy to manage and more versatile than using different sized boxes for brood and honey. Filled with honey, each box weighs between 45 and 50lbs. There is no need for a queen excluder (though, nothing prevents you from using one) as frames of honey and brood are interchangeable. A single size of box comes in handy when doing splits; merely transfer brood, pollen, and some frames of honey from an established colony into an empty hive box. No need to worry about mismatched frame and box sizes. Everything is consistent.
Screened bottom boards and Warre top-quilt ensure a proper balance between ventilation and insulation. Loosely filled with straw or wood ships, the screened top-quilt insulates while allowing moisture to escape. Unlike traditional solid inner covered, the insulated top-quilt prevents condensation above the bees. This feature is especially crucial for the over-wintering success of your colony.
How does the Beecentric Hive compare to Warre and Langstroth hives?
The Beecentric Hive is a modified Warre hive that uses standard medium Langstroth frames OR (if you prefer) it is an eight frame medium Langstroth hives (sometimes called an Illinois Hive) with a screened bottom board and Warre top-quilt and roof. Either way, the Beecentric hive strikes a perfect balance between Warre’s bee-centred approach and the versatility and accessibility of a commercial Langstroth.
Does the Beecentric Hive use top-bars (TBH) or frames?
The Beecentric hive uses standard Langstroth frames. Here’s why:
While the traditional Warre uses top-bars, the bees eventually fasten them to the sides of the hive which prevents easy removal and inspection. In contrast, Langstroth frames are four-sided and allow the bees to attach the comb to the frame (as opposed to the sides of the box). As a result, Langstroth frames can easily be removed, inspected, harvested, swapped between boxes, or used to create splits. For the top bar hive enthusiast, it’s important to remember that foundationless frames are top-bars with sides and a bottom.
Does the Beecentric Hive use foundation?
Since the Beecentric Hive uses langstroth frames, the frames can be used with or without foundation. Though the choice is entirely up to you, we have had success going foundationless.
Does the Beecentric Hive need/use a queen excluder?
No. A queen excluder is not needed to manage the Beecentric Hive. The queen naturally wants to keep the brood nest at the base of the colony.
When adding boxes to any hive design, I like to add it above the brood and below any existing honey. This configuration gives the bees room for brood, honey, or both. When it’s time to add another box, I merely add another box between the brood and honey.
Should the colony ever place honey in the brood chamber or brood in the honey chamber, individual frames can quickly be moved as needed (made possible by the fact that the brood and honey frames are the same). However, the Beecentric Hive is entirely compatible with commercially available eight frame queen excluders.
Is the Beecentric Hive compatible with the Flow Hive?
Yes. The Beecentric and Flow hives are 100% compatible. You can add a Flow Hive box to the top of a Beecentric hive without issue. For my take on Flow Hives, how not to break the bank, and how they can use them with the Beecentric Hive, check out this post: Using A Flow Hive Super With A Beecentric Hive.
What comes with the Beecentic Hive?
When you purchase a beecentric hive, it will come with:
- 3 eight-frame, medium hive boxes (used for brood and honey)
- 1 Warre top-quilt with an integrated entrance.
- 1 Warre roof
- 1 IPM screened bottom board with integrated entrance and plastic insert
- 2 entrance reducers (of two different sizes)
- Frames sold separately
Does the Beecentric hive ship?
Due to demand, I will be shipping Beecentric Hives for the 2019 beekeeping season. While the Warre top-quilt and IPM bottom board ship assembled, the roof and boxes will be flat packed unassembled to keep the cost of shipping down.
When will my hive be available?
I take orders each Summer and Fall for local (Edmonton) pickup in early Spring (March-April) of the following year. If you have requested shipping, hives will arrive before the start of your local beekeeping season.